Thursday, August 12, 1999
Taft ducks water plan, groups say
Response: Pollution standards just slow
BY ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
The Associated Press
COLUMBUS Gov. Bob Taft broke a campaign promise to improve water pollution standards in southern Ohio, environmentalists said Wednesday, an allegation the administration denied.
Ohio Citizen Action, the Ohio Environmental Council and other organizations want the state to extend pollution standards for waters draining from Lake Erie to the Ohio River Basin in the southern half of the state.
The groups said Mr. Taft promised during last fall's gubernatorial campaign to let an advisory group consider standards adopted in October 1997 for Lake Erie waters.
Without the standards, people and animals in southern Ohio are subjected to more toxins and cancer-causing agents, said Vicki Deisner, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council.
Scott Milburn, a spokesman for Mr. Taft, called the accusations unfortunate.
He said the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is waiting to hear from industries, cities and environmental groups about whether to issue standards now or wait until a process for implementing the standards has been established.
Carol Hester, an EPA spokeswoman, said the agency has been directing its energies on establishing policies for other clean water standards mandated by law.
We have not shelved Ohio River Basin standards, we're just working on them at a slower pace, she said.
The environmental organizations also asked the state to reverse a policy that stopped the distribution this year of printed warnings about which fish are safe to eat.
The Natural Resources Department had distributed the information since 1992 with fishing licenses, said Ray Petering, a spokesman for the Division of Wildlife. The information includes details about how to cook fish to limit exposure to toxic chemicals and which fish are unsafe to eat.
Mr. Petering said the Health Department took over printing and distribution this year. Next year, the health and wildlife departments will produce the pamphlets together and make them available again with fishing licenses.
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